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What's your favorite reference tracks and why / regarding which aspects ?
Old 10th October 2019
  #1
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Uli Auer's Avatar
 

What's your favorite reference tracks and why / regarding which aspects ?

Hey esteemed ME's !

Everybody's making lists of EQ and compressor plugins these days...but how about putting a list of great sounding master tracks together for everybody to check them out or make good use of them theirselves?

And: Aside from choosing different tracks for certain genres, some people might also have some reference aces up the sleeve for a particular quality in frequency ranges or other, overall aesthetical aspects - like tight and clear and hence well estimable low end, a certain amount of really low sub content, a special high end sheen or vocal quality one might strive for to achieve etc etc....you name it.....

Please share your thoughts and comment why you choose a particular track and what's your focus when referencing to it....or do you even use just ONE track for everything ?

Have fun !
Old 10th October 2019
  #2
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Miles Flint's Avatar
 

I have a "REF" project for some genres where I put or take off tracks that I listen to regularly. The project contains tracks I personally like, other tracks that are from MEs that I like in particular or know in personal, tracks I think that they are "great sounding", tracks I don't like but they make me "how does that work..?", tracks I simply like to listen to, tracks for analysis, own tracks for comparison.
Old 10th October 2019
  #3
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Uli Auer's Avatar
 

Great. Would you also share the names of those tracks ? Or are they top secret ?

;-)
Old 11th October 2019
  #4
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
most of my favorite ref tracks were from the 90s,

and mastered by either Bob Ludwig or Doug Sax.

Lately I’ve been listening to Jimmie Vaughan “Strange Pleasure” from 1994,

Mastered by Bob Ludwig.

His original 1998 CD master of Sheryl Crow “Globe Sessions” is another favorite,

sooo much analog color on that record.

Best, JT
Old 11th October 2019
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
most of my favorite ref tracks were from the 90s,

and mastered by either Bob Ludwig or Doug Sax.
Same.

Awhile back I got a lil ssd drive solely for putting records on, and spent a couple days ripping most of my cd collection. I'd sit there with my magnifying glass and read the credits while the discs were ripping. Bob's name is on A LOT of records. It almost got to be a joke, I'd open up another disc jacket and yep, there's Bob again.

Anyway off the top of my head in no particular order:

Shellac-any of them, but especially 1000 Hurts
King's X-Dogman
Soundgarden-Superunknown
Medeski Martin and Wood-Friday Afternoon In The Universe
Fugazi-End Hits and The Argument
Neurosis-Sovereign
PJ Harvey-Stories From The City (bad mastering but her voice and guitar playing are so awesome it doesn't matter)
Soul Coughing-Ruby Vroom and El Oso
John Coltrane-Love Supreme
Sonic Youth-Dirty

Speaking of Sheryl Crow, I'm not sure "All I Wanna Do" is a particularly great song, but that mix sounds killer.

I like this song for checking subs, there's a big low drum that comes in on the downbeats of the chorus. This is Bob of course. Some of my favorite bass and drums interplay, so fun to listen to. And how can you not like a song named "Sex Doily"?


Last edited by scraggs; 12th October 2019 at 03:31 AM.. Reason: damn typos
Old 11th October 2019
  #6
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Miles Flint's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uli Auer View Post
Great. Would you also share the names of those tracks ? Or are they top secret ?

;-)
Not top secret...
But it's a quite personal list, so no

I think references are very subjective and finding them is a personal process and a time consuming thing. Like finding the "right" speakers!
Old 21st October 2019
  #7
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Uli Auer's Avatar
 

Anybody else willing to share ?
Old 21st October 2019
  #8
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perknold's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
Same.

Awhile back I got a lil ssd drive solely for putting records on, and spent a couple days ripping most of my cd collection. I'd sit there with my magnifying glass and read the credits while the discs were ripping. Bob's name is on A LOT of records. It almost got to be a joke, I'd open up another disc jacket and yep, there's Bob again.

Anyway off the top of my head in no particular order:

Shellac-any of them, but especially 1000 Hurts
King's X-Dogman
Soundgarden-Superunknown
Medeski Martin and Wood-Friday Afternoon In The Universe
Fugazi-End Hits and The Argument
Neurosis-Sovereign
PJ Harvey-Stories From The City (bad mastering but her voice and guitar playing are so awesome it doesn't matter)
Soul Coughing-Ruby Vroom and El Oso
John Coltrane-Love Supreme
Sonic Youth-Dirty

Speaking of Sheryl Crow, I'm not sure "All I Wanna Do" is a particularly great song, but that mix sounds killer.

I like this song for checking subs, there's a big low drum that comes in on the downbeats of the chorus. This is Bob of course. Some of my favorite bass and drums interplay, so fun to listen to. And how can you not like a song named "Sex Doily"?

+1 Shellac 1000 Hurts
Old 21st October 2019
  #9
DAH
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DAH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb View Post
most of my favorite ref tracks were from the 90s,

and mastered by either Bob Ludwig or Doug Sax.

Lately I’ve been listening to Jimmie Vaughan “Strange Pleasure” from 1994,

Mastered by Bob Ludwig.

His original 1998 CD master of Sheryl Crow “Globe Sessions” is another favorite,

sooo much analog color on that record.

Best, JT
Whats your opinion on DSD? IME, CDs are flat sounding, as 96/24 is narrow and still not much body/air.
Old 22nd October 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perknold View Post
+1 Shellac 1000 Hurts
A brief, mildly amusing story regarding that record:

Eons ago I went to a hifi store in Boston with my heart set on buying a pair of B+W 805s, which I did, and they've been serving me well ever since.

I asked the salesguy if I could have a listen to them, he said sure and set them up for me. I handed him my cd with all my favorites on it and he popped it into the player.

This was the first song on the disc:



He presses play, I'm sitting there like "whoo hoo this sounds awesome!"

Song finishes, I turn to look at him and he has this totally confused, upset look on his face. He says "is that something that was professionally recorded and mixed?"

Old 22nd October 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
A brief, mildly amusing story regarding that record:

Eons ago I went to a hifi store in Boston with my heart set on buying a pair of B+W 805s, which I did, and they've been serving me well ever since.

I asked the salesguy if I could have a listen to them, he said sure and set them up for me. I handed him my cd with all my favorites on it and he popped it into the player.

This was the first song on the disc:



He presses play, I'm sitting there like "whoo hoo this sounds awesome!"

Song finishes, I turn to look at him and he has this totally confused, upset look on his face. He says "is that something that was professionally recorded and mixed?"

Hello,

Why Love supreme of Coltrane?
Old 22nd October 2019
  #12
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biksonije's Avatar
 

Hey you Slutz,

noone mentioned Supertramp and probably transient and dynamic-wise superb recordings of all times: Logical Song or Child of Vision?

Krešo
Old 23rd October 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinococcus View Post
Why Love supreme of Coltrane?
Because I like how it sounds.
Old 23rd October 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
Because I like how it sounds.
Thanks
Old 23rd October 2019
  #15
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Jerry Tubb's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH View Post
Whats your opinion on DSD? IME, CDs are flat sounding, as 96/24 is narrow and still not much body/air.
IMHO DSD sounds fabulous,

much more resembling the original sound than PCM audio would.

back in 2005 I mastered a 5.1 Surround DSD project for John Hiatt,

the resulting SACD won dts audio’s record of the year (or similar).

“Master of Disaster”

we used the Sonoma DSD system throughout from recording, mixing & mastering.

it sounds fabulous.

interesting snafu tho, the late great Doug Sax who i greatly admired, did the final authoring of the disc, and hence was given the Mastering credit.

which may have contributed to the win.

But we got the crystal glass trophy as a consolation prize!

that’s life in the fast lane of Music Biz 101 ala Hunter S Thompson.

Also mastered a single a few years ago for the great rock guitarist Eric Johnson, which came in on DSD, the Korg unit iirc.

after analog EQ we captired it at 2496 which we sent to MFiT.

https://music.apple.com/us/album/ima...gle/1445040279

So yes, i was a big admirer of DSD for a few years.

But like many high-end formats, has been relegated to a niche audience.

I do like 24-96 PCM audio a lot, sounds beautiful,

but when you hear DSD, especially an acoustic recording in a room...

your jaw should drop, and you utter OMG, it sounds so Real.

Thanks for asking.

Cheers, JT

Last edited by Jerry Tubb; 23rd October 2019 at 04:06 PM..
Old 24th October 2019
  #16
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Uli Auer's Avatar
 

Thanks everybody for sharing.
@ jerry and DAH: Please keep the format tech talk rather short here, okay? Thanks for your understanding....

My intention to start this thread was collecting both which tracks ME's use for referencing and why or for what reason in particular they may choose to listen to a certain track in order to check things....

So please, while just reading your postings of a plain listing of the tracks you feel sounding great is cool, I would even more like to know from you more about those "special and personal" use purposes of a particular track - just as posted in the beginning....

Examples could be:

What's your favorite track for checking the balance and resolution of the low end ?

What do you listen to regarding stereo imaging / balance of M and S channel issues...?

What about vocal level / presence / sheen ?

....of course this might offer different results while mastering different genres.....



Best regards and thanks for everybody in this great community !
Old 24th October 2019
  #17
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

Verified Member
A couple of mine: 'Billie Jean' – fantastic imaging, arrangement (much of which was in the demo), punchy, and always brighter then you remember it. And recognizable from the very first beat. A great example of innovate, don't imitate.

Paul Simon 'Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes' – (original CD or remaster) for punch & dynamic range.

Keren Ann – much of her work as a great example to artists who might be shy of sitting a lead vocal loud enough in a mix. Again, arrangement is also everything.

Björk – many tracks, for density and sub bass extension without overpowering.
Old 25th October 2019
  #18
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teebaum's Avatar
John Mayers - Belief
Rammstein - Deutschland (and many other Songs of Rammstein)

In this Songs the line between "too dull" and "too bright" is very small
Old 25th October 2019
  #19
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uli Auer View Post

My intention to start this thread was collecting both which tracks ME's use for referencing and why or for what reason in particular they may choose to listen to a certain track in order to check things....
I pretty much never listen to anything to 'check' things in day to day work....if a client sends a ref along with their mix I'll of course listen to that and do my best to get their mix to sit nicely next to the ref...but in general, all the stuff I listed I use for testing room acoustics/converters/amps and such.

Anyway one thing all the stuff I listed has in common (besides awesome drumming) is a nice smooth top end. Some more than others, but in general all that stuff is pretty chill up top, and that's very much my preference and how I tend to master things.

Quote:
What's your favorite track for checking the balance and resolution of the low end ?
The first song I posted.

Quote:
What do you listen to regarding stereo imaging / balance of M and S channel issues...?
The second one.

Quote:
What about vocal level / presence / sheen ?
I dunno, but "gimme shelter" and anything off Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" would be a good look at the margins.
Old 25th October 2019
  #20
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Verified Member
I collected a bunch of tracks that kinda helped me define the margins of 'good sound' in my room. By that I mean things that push towards or even slightly beyond the boundaries. I sometimes pull these out for sanity checks and to recalibrate my ears if I lose focus.

Some examples include:

Jessie J - Price Tag: super bright but still manages to sound 'warm.'

Madonna - Ray of Light (album): quite dark but you don't really notice it.

Brothers Osbourne - Shoot Me Straight: density and compression. I use this as an example of when 'overprocessing' can actually serve the impact of the song.

The Paper Kites - On the Train Ride Home (album): muddy, resonant low-mids.

Bonnie Raitt - Dig In Deep: high-mids.

I also have Billie Jean and John Mayer's Belief for similar reasons to those above. I use Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life as a good rock ref.

And sometimes I like to pull out George Benson - This Masquerade as a reminder of how things can sound when EVERYTHING comes together: great arrangement played by great musicians in a great room captured and mixed by great engineers. This also helps me remember how good my system can sound.
Old 26th October 2019
  #21
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Verified Member
I review loudspeakers from time to time, and have a collection of favourite tracks. In the last couple of years I've used Grace Jones' 'Hurricane' album, notably the first two songs - record/mix Cameron Craig, mastered by Bob Ludwig. Any decent system should display the great presentation and imaging, but also the clever compromises made in mastering to get it commercially loud while keeping as much of the good stuff as possible.

Cameron is an occasional mastering client here, the only one I've known in nearly 25 years of MEing to say things like 'I like that half dB dip you did at 330' just by listening, and be right every time. He told me Hurricane was recorded over a three-year period, six months of which was mixing.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurr...ce_Jones_album)

Last edited by lowland; 29th October 2019 at 08:51 AM..
Old 28th October 2019
  #22
any references for electronic music, especially deep house?
Old 29th October 2019
  #23
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eternalsound's Avatar
Anything by the late great George Marino. He pretty much defined the sound of popular mastering.
Old 29th October 2019
  #24
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I,m not an engineer/mixer but recently i was sitting in the dentist reception and they have a old style small radio playing generic BBC Radio 2.
What stood out was Queens "A Kinda Magic" the bass was popping and everything could be heard, nicely balanced. I thought it would make a good reference track. Don't know who engineered or mastered it.
Old 29th October 2019
  #25
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky View Post
I,m not an engineer/mixer but recently i was sitting in the dentist reception and they have a old style small radio playing generic BBC Radio 2.
What stood out was Queens "A Kinda Magic" the bass was popping and everything could be heard, nicely balanced. I thought it would make a good reference track. Don't know who engineered or mastered it.
OT, but I once heard 'Manic Monday' by The Bangles playing in a supermarket through ceiling speakers and was surprised at how good it sounded - against all the odds, every part was clear and effective.

I did the initial engineering on albums for The Outfield from the late 80s to early 90s, and worked alongside David Leonard (engineer) and David Kahne (producer) on a couple of projects - they were the team that produced The Bangles. The Outfield's 'Voices of Babylon' is a case in point: we'd done a 24 track demo, most of which made it into the final release, but the two Davids took it to another level with added parts and a quality mix.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avnTG1zCaoE

Last edited by lowland; 29th October 2019 at 03:38 PM..
Old 29th October 2019
  #26
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SASMastering's Avatar
It would take a long while to list all great tracks/refs. I don't normally use references for mastering unless supplied, which is fine and even then the reasons can vary. But what springs to mind is that this sounds really great on any device..big speakers, tiny speakers, you name it. Very specific genre wise but would sound good on the even the very worst speakers.

The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary

Mid range translation sums it up, uncluttered, strong elements sonic-ally in isolation and in musical message, kick click goes through anything, vocal, guitars, the works.
Old 29th October 2019
  #27
Here's my list, though I don't know how helpful it is to anybody but me. I use these tracks as a baseline to make sure my room, room correction, treatment, any new gear, the bass, etc. sounds right in my room. I don't use them as "mastering" references.

Most of these tracks on this list are here because I've known the material intimately for years (look at the number of plays on some)...I especially like remasters of material I know because they are revelatory of the original piece. Only a handful of the tracks on here I am not a fan of (like the Black Keys), but that one is on here specifically because it is a Brian Lucey master and for me, represents a modern master. The loudness is wild and the low end in the chorus is insane, but it still sounds good. That Sia track (which I love) is also super hot and peaks at like 5/6LUFS but sounds pretty good.

EDIT: Just realized the attached list is virtually illegible.

Here it is on IMGUR

Last edited by rollmottle; 29th October 2019 at 05:35 PM..
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